Behind the scenes: capturing the KU experience

Posted on Aug 25, 2017 in Alumni News and News

Ben Brodsky
 
Ben Brodsky, c’17, produced a video chronicling his KU experience with familiar campus scenes sure to resonate with alumni. After posting his homage to his alma mater on social media, the video quickly went viral, generating more than 100,000 views during the first week of KU classes. Students and alumni alike could relate to his moving images and the poetic word play provided by Brodsky’s classmate and collaborator, Amie Just, j’17, profiled here. We caught up with Brodsky to go behind the scenes and learn more about the project and his KU journey.

Ben, we love your video. What inspired the project?

During my second year at KU, I took a class called After Effects where our professor showed us a short called “Traditions.” A combination of the cinematography, KUs rich history, and the intentional rhythmic storyline combining both narration and film left me inspired. I wanted to create something that left viewers feeling the same emotional connection and pride in our University as it did to me. On top of that, I’m always looking to grow as a filmmaker and this style of short allowed me to challenge myself.

(Editor’s note: We remember that video! We profiled KU alumnus and spoken word poet Topher Enneking, who was involved in the project, in 2014.)

How do you want Jayhawks to react after watching it?

As I said before, I want viewers to feel an emotional connection to KU and pride for their campus.  At the same time, I want all future Jayhawks to see this video and become excited about the 4-year journey they’re about to embark on.  With KU’s rich history, there are so many traditions and experiences all Jayhawks share. Experiences that are multi-generational.  As the narration and scenes cuts to different locations on campus I want viewers to see themselves having those experiences.

I want alumni reminiscing about the hours they spent camping for basketball, the classes they sat through at Budig Hall, the organizations they met at Wescoe Beach, and the feeling that, while we all become Jayhawks, the Jayhawk becomes apart of us.

I want them to be present in that shared KU experience, whether they’re a future Jayhawk who is looking forward or an alumnus looking back. Everyone who goes to KU–and even people who just visit–know there is something special about our campus and culture. As those who live it, we understand it. For those who don’t live it, I hope they’ll understand it through this video.

We definitely think they’ll understand after watching. So how would you describe your KU experience?

Throughout high school, I struggled to find myself. I remember the day my twin brother, Sam, and I received our acceptance, it was an easy decision for us to attend KU. From the first time I stepped foot onto Jayhawk Blvd to walking through the Campanile at Graduation, KU was home. I was supported academically by incredible professors who continuously challenged me and my skills. Ben Brodsky I was supported socially by the community I found in fraternity life, and I was supported professionally by my friends and other community members who gave me the opportunity to create films for them.  KU was everything I was hoping college life would be and more.

Now that you’ve walked down the hill, what’s next?

I am passionate about cinematography and media, as I hope my video, KU- A Journey, showcased. My twin brother Sam, and I started our own video production company in the Minneapolis area called Brodsky Productions. Right now, we are focusing on creating our business plan so that we can continue to grow and provide spectacular cinematic and emotionally moving short films for our clientele. So far, we’ve provided photography and videography services to create documentaries, music videos, wedding videos, event recaps, retail and product spotlights and much more. We’re hoping as our company develops, we will find our niche and focus our efforts in that direction. We’re also hoping that as we continue to meet and network with professionals in the area, we’ll find mentors who are eager to help us grow and succeed. So far we’ve been very fortunate and we’re excited to see where the future takes us!

No doubt your talents, developed and honed at KU, will take you far! But no matter how far you fly beyond the golden valley, remember–as your video reminds all Jayhawks–that there’s no place like home! Rock Chalk!

–David Johnston

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A tradition is born: ‘Welcome to KU’

Posted on Aug 25, 2014 in Alumni News and News

The goosebumps-inducing video “Welcome to KU,” which debuted on the big-screen scoreboard at Traditions Night Saturday evening in Memorial Stadium, quickly rushed to Internet stardom among Jayhawks old and new after being posted to KU’s Facebook page Sunday, and for good reason: Spoken-word poet Topher Enneking (who went by Chris in his playing days as a KU offensive lineman from 1995 to 1999) delivers an inspirational message of growth, inclusion and tradition that mirrors his own personal journey through KU and beyond.

“We don’t want to be heavy handed about all these great things that KU is about because what KU is really about is providing a place for people to come and to grow, and that grows our tradition,” Enneking, c’08, a para-educator at Lawrence’s South Middle School, said Monday. “It was a unique experience for me, and a cool dynamic, because I was asked, as a poet—something I wasn’t when I was at KU—to come back and try to bring out some more of that tradition while also being asked to add to it.

“So I was kind of asking them [incoming freshmen] to do that same thing.”

Enneking discovered his voice as a writer and poet while coaching at a private Jesuit school in Colorado. He also worked as a maintenance man at a state park in return for being allowed to pitch his tent, and while there he began keeping a journal.

“One day I saw what I had written and I was like, ‘Hey, I think that’s a poem. Let me try that and see if that’s something that I could do,'” Enneking recalls. “It kind of fell into place. I really enjoyed it and really liked what I got out of it, so that’s when I started writing, and I actually started performing when I happened into an open-mic night.”Topher Enneking

Last year he performed his poem “Son of Lawrence, Kansas” for incoming freshmen at Traditions Night; eager for more, officials at KU’s Office of Marketing Communications asked Enneking to write another poem, this time about KU traditions, and perform it for a video production.

Enneking wrote “Welcome to KU” in collaboration with Tim Seley, associate director of digital media, who emphasized that he wanted to hear Enneking’s personal take on the KU experience.

“I’m a fan of spoken-word poetry, that style and that format,” Seley says. “I think it adds a lot of gravitas, and Topher, he’s just this kind of guy that when he speaks, people listen. We had a few meetings back and forth, so it was a little bit collaborative, but the majority of the poem was him. We tried to be intentional about not making it be the voice of Marketing Communications. We wanted it to be the voice of Topher, speaking on behalf of KU.

“Topher did his thing and we just tried to support that and let the words speak for themselves.”

Andrew Lee was the video’s lead editor, with help provided by student video assistant Dylan Snyder. Seley directed, MarComm’s Frank Barthell was producer, and production assistant Steve Rausch also helped with the camera.

“KU is a 150-year-old institution next year, and we have all this nostalgia, so tradition is a really big word,” Seley says. “But we wanted to sort of invite students into this tradition, as they’re going to carry that forward.”

… The top of the world is just up that Hill, where our natural history is an awestruck echo of worlds, fair and equal, past, present and future, prelude and sequel, where our flags fly above plains, where we build in chalks that can’t be erased, stone edifices made to last so you would walk past their doors, down their halls, and let your voice fill their rooms, because only in an empty silence can destruction loom.

So stand tall, wrap your arms around this crowd, sing our alma mater and sing it out loud. Let your voice join in chorus and reach other nations, beckoning new Jayhawks to spark new collaborations, because you are the mortar that will hold these walls upright. Your future, your dreams, are why Jayhawks did fight, for the tradition before you was merely prelude to what will come next now that you’re at KU.

“We wanted it to be something that people would connect with in different ways than they get from the standard fare of tradition videos,” Enneking says, “to breathe some life into it so that people would see how that tradition ebbs and flows and how much they’re a part of it.

“Hopefully people see that and start thinking, ‘Wow, I wonder what my look on it is going to be?’ Most of these traditions that we have weren’t intentional traditions; it starts out from something and then it builds from there. You plant that seed.”

—Chris Lazzarino

Watch an interview with Topher Enneking from 6 News Lawrence.

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